Tintype of a man with a straw hat

Click here to see it larger.

What it is:

Tintype measuring approx. 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


Not much to say about this one.  It’s just another vague but interesting glimpse into the past, as this dapper man stands there looking back at us across the years.  (For those who haven’t seen my previous tintype posts, the tintype process basically involves chemically affixing the negative directly onto a thin piece of metal that has been coated in black, the black creating the optical illusion of reversing the negative image to show us a positive image.  It was a popular photography method for a while because it was comparatively fast, inexpensive and durable, but each tintype was also one-of-a-kind, adding a degree of preciousness to them today.)

14 comments on “Tintype of a man with a straw hat”

  1. Speaking of tintypes, the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco this July will be showing Buster Keaton’s “The Cameraman,” in which he plays a street tintype photographer. The movie doesn’t give much info about the process, but any excuse to recommend it! http://tinyurl.com/7kfp4r4

    • That’s fine, Buster Keaton is always worth a plug. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I’ve seen “The Cameraman”, but I don’t really remember it now, and I always confuse it with “Sherlock, Jr.”, in which he plays a movie projector operator, which isn’t the same thing, but gets confused in my addled mind. I guess it’s time to see “The Cameraman” again.

  2. Love this post as tintypes have a special atmosphere that is entrancing. Also love his boater, a bit like Keaton’s but probably this one fits better!. Also love silent movies and haven’t seen “The Cameraman” yet. Funnily enough after a Chaplin binge, I only recently started on Keaton. Saw “The General” only a week or two ago.

    • I agree, there’s something a little mysterious about tintypes. I normally prefer regular paper photos (not a judgment, just my personal taste), but in the right frame of mind the tintypes can be captivating. Re: Keaton, harriedcostumer and I both love the book “Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood through the Films of Buster Keaton”, by John Bengtson. Bengtson is part film historian, part obsessed fan, who goes scene by scene through every Buster Keaton movie and tracks down and photographs the present-day locations where Keaton’s films were made. It’s basically a picture book with extensive captions. I am fascinated by the historical aspects, I’m fascinated by the insight into Keaton’s film making, and I can totally relate to the obsessive hobbyist in him. It seems like the sort of thing that would be right up your alley. 🙂

  3. The man and pose are interesting (scary how he looks exactly like a friend of mine), but I like the elaborately painted backdrop too.

  4. There’s something about tintypes I rather like. They always look a bit shadowy and dim, lending a sense of mystery no matter who’s in them. Great post!

    • Thanks, Jenna! I go back and forth in my opinion about tintypes. Sometimes the shadowy and dim quality you mentioned is exactly what I don’t like about it. But sometimes, as with here, I think it enhances it.

  5. This is the first of your posts I’ve seen where I don’t trust the subject. I have no right to judge, and know nothing of the man, but I don’t like him.

    I’m sure his ghost and his progeny will hold that against me.

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